Harassment and violence in the workplace: changes expected for federally regulated employers

After a few politicians at the federal and provincial levels recently stepped down because of sexual misconduct allegations, debates surrounding Bill C-65 were engaged in late January in the House of Commons.

Tabled in November 2017, Bill C-65 aims to amend “the Canada Labour Code (CLC) to strengthen the existing framework for preventing harassment and violence, including sexual harassment and sexual violence, in the workplace.”

Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour Patty Hajdu’s approach is focused on occupational health and safety, with amendments to Part II of the CLC to bring psychological injuries or illnesses in the realm of workplace accidents to be covered by the legislation.

With this in place, Bill C-65 tasks federally regulated employers with taking affirmative action to prevent and protect employees against harassment and violence in the workplace.

Additionally, employers will have to investigate, record and report all accidents resulting from harassment or violence in the workplace. Compliance with future regulations on the subject will also be mandatory.

Division XV.1 of the CLC – contained in Part III “Standard hours, wages, vacations and holidays” – already addresses sexual harassment in the workplace, but it was part of the Liberal agenda to propose a more robust approach on this subject.

In light of recent events, it is safe to assume that Bill C-65 will become effective sooner rather than later. Federally regulated employers should get ready to act accordingly.

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